Allan Calls for Return of Emergency Towing Vessel
Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has reacted to today's publication of the report by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) into the of the Transocean Winner. The decommissioned oil rig was being towed past the Hebrides in August of last year when the tow line was lost in rough weather. The rig was subsequently grounded on Dalmore beach on the North West coast of the Isle of Lewis until its removal two months later.
Dr Allan said that the report showed up a "catalogue of things to be concerned about" and reiterated calls for the return of an Emergency Towing Vessel (ETV) to be permanently based in the Western Isles.
Alasdair Allan MSP commented:
"Anyone reading this thorough investigation will be left troubled. Although, in the case of the Transocean Winner, no lives were lost and there was no significant environmental damage, the incident served to point to the huge danger the island economy and environment would face, if ever a vessel carrying a large amount of hazardous cargo found herself in a similar position.
"The report says that the decision by the master of the tug to leave Stavanger, given the weather forecast, was 'borderline' and that voyage planning 'did not consider the effect of high winds'. The report is also critical of a planned route that left very little sea room from the coast in places, and that inadequate planning was given to places where the vessel could be heaved to in bad weather. The tow line used was found to be in 'poor condition' and the report expresses concern about the basis on which the lengths of tow lines were calculated at important points of the voyage.
"The report raises a number of worrying points, such as the lack of essential information, instruction or guidance in the towing vessel's Towing Manual. This would have left the crew with insufficient information to carry out their duties and the fact that the report says that "such arrangements may not be unusual in ocean towage" is deeply worrying. It also raises questions about why the nearest Emergency Towing Vessel was 12 hours away in Orkney, which will again reopen the debate about why the Maritime and Coastguard agency removed the vessel from the west coast in the first place.
"It is clear that the west coast of Scotland remains at risk of future incidents occurring. Instead of seeing this incident as a wakeup call, the UK Government has so far been deaf to the collective calls of the industry, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Highlands and Islands MSPs and MPs for a second ETV based in the Western Isles. I hope this report now makes the UK Government reconsider their position."